1st Solo Woman Finisher! Woo-hoo!
Moon Units Excited to Start at Furnace Creek: Mile 0
The First Half: Mile 96
It was a very mild day in one of the hottest places on the planet. A lot of people started with arm warmers and it only reached the mid 70s. The overcast sky hid the famous stars of Death Valley that I have yet to see. I was feeling super until the D-train drilled it and left a whole pace-line crossed eyed and shattered in lawn chairs at the Nevada border. Luckily, I have a knack for recovering. We needed someone to set the pace.
Lunch was at Scotty's Castle (Party Pad in the Middle O' Nowhere): Mile 120
We passed a really fluffy coyote on the climb up to lunch. He wasn't concerned about us at all. I had to tip-toe (you can do that on a bike, right?) around a tarantula in the road. I felt a lot better after a turkey sandwich.
Onto Ubehebe Crater (OOO-BEH-HEEE-BEE-- Say it! It's FUN)! Mile 130
It was a quick out and back with bad roads and a little climbing. You feel like you're in a parallel universe. It looks like you are going downhill but you are going 8 miles per hour generating 250 watts. Trippy. It can really mess with your mind. I think our minds aren't built to process the scale of a landscape like this. I felt like a little ant at the beach.
Down the Hill to Stove Pipe Wells: Mile 170
Finally some downhill after all the climbing. Thanks to Adventure Corps, the water bottles were always full and we had a nice little group. I was starting to get a little tired of the concentration required for drafting though.
Hell's Gate: Mile 184
It was about dark when we hit the last climb of the day. 6.5 miles with a couple thousand feet of climbing. So dark and so quiet. I felt like I was going to have a seizure when a ride came up behind us with a flashing front light. I let him pass to get away from it. They should ban those things. It was peaceful after that. Nice pavement and not as freakin' scary as it sounds.
Finish Line: Mile 197
There was a big group cheering our arrival including a group of women who had ridden the century who wanted to talk to me. They asked me why I do these things. My answer was that it teaches you a lot about yourself and I'm a little nuts. This says it better than I could:
"But you, by the grace of an ordeal in the night which stripped you of all that was not intrinsic, you discovered a mysterious creature born of yourself. Great was this creature, and never shall you forget him."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "Wind, Sand, and Stars"
It was a long but beautiful trip home up Hwy. 395
I got to stop at one of my favorite places, The Whoa Nelly Deli at the mouth of Tioga Pass